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Ryanair lifts profit forecast

Ryanair lifts profit forecast
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More passengers meant higher earnings for Ryanair at the end of last year.

Europe’s biggest low-cost airline has just hiked its full-year profit forecast to 540 million euros. That was up from an earlier 490-520 million euro range.

The Dublin-based carrier cited strong demand in Northern Europe which mean it was able to lift its average fares dramatically in the last three months of 2012. They rose eight percent in the period.

Quarterly profit was up by 21 percent at 18.1 million euros.

“We saw strong demand out of the UK, out of Germany and out of Scandinavia and that has gone straight to our bottom line,” said Chief Operating Officer Michael Cawley.

Sales were not as buoyant in Southern Europe, with Spain in particular “very weak,” and fare growth in Italy flat, he added.

Ryanair has been able to sweep up customers as traditional rivals cut back capacity in the face of slow economic growth in Europe and high fuel costs.

Revenues climbed 15 percent to 969 million euros in the quarter, better than the 9.2 percent revenue growth its chief low-cost rival easyJet reported last week.

Higher fares helped Ryanair absorb a 24 percent hike in fuel costs compared with the same quarter last year. Fuel cost inflation is expected to ease to five percent in the year to March 2014 from 14 percent in the current financial year.

The airline remains in “protracted negotiations” with Boeing about a large plane order, Cawley confirmed.

In a separate statement, Ryanair said it remained confident European Union antitrust regulators would approve its bid for Irish rival Aer Lingus by March.